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Home / Health / SF projects target COVID data to the worst case scenario, but are they accurate?

SF projects target COVID data to the worst case scenario, but are they accurate?



Although the coronavirus is spreading again throughout San Francisco, city officials find themselves in the worst possible outcome: mass infections by fall, potentially straining the city’s health care system and severely elevating the city, dying.

In a virtual press conference on Thursday, the San Francisco Department of Public Health dr. Grant Colfax confirmed that the number of COVID patients hospitalized is higher than before, highlighting the urgent need for the urban population to self-correct in order to mitigate the spread of the virus. At the peak of the last April, 94 people were hospitalized. Six weeks ago, that number dropped to 26. But at the end of July, the number of hospitalizations rose to 107. Of those, Colfax noted, a quarter are in intensive care.

“In just 1

0 days, 5,000 to 6,000 cases of COVID-19 this month,” he said. “Let me be clear: we are experiencing a huge influx of COVID-19. The virus is changing rapidly and more people are getting seriously ill. If this continues at the current rate, we will estimate that we will have an average of more than 750 San Francisco hospitals by mid-October and more than 600 deaths. from COVID-19, 2020 [The] Under the worst case scenario, we could end up with 2,400 hospitalizations and 1,800 deaths. These scenarios are becoming more plausible as each day goes to current trends. ”

Such numbers seem daunting, but they can still be avoided at the moment. On Thursday, 6423 cases and 58 deaths were registered in the city. Colfax noted that San Francisco hospitals are not as overwhelmed as they were in New York, but that it is “extremely sober that we have reached this point.”

Professor of Epidemiology, University of California, San Francisco, dr. George Rutherford largely agrees with the city’s assessment and current forecasts. Although the current R0 score is just north of 1 – significantly lower than it was about a week or more ago – the numbers the city predicts in the near future may still hold the weight.

“In the past, they were accurate,” Rutherford said of the forecast for 4-6 weeks ahead. “Going further is one ‘s guess. To get estimates of where things could be, we use a variety of inputs. [but] it’s not like we have a pool about it or betting on it. They are for planning purposes. If [Colfax] puts those numbers there, that’s what they’re planning. “

City officials are currently working to find the best ways to avoid hospitalization. On Thursday, Colfax and District 2 supervisor Catherine Stefani announced that a 93-person low-intensity care center for non-COVID patients is freeing hospital beds for coronavirus cases. And previously, an additional floor was opened for COVID patients at St. Francis Memorial Hospital.

As for what might happen later this year, Rutherford is less sure about the city’s forecasts. While the view that an average of more than 750 people can be hospitalized every day is likely, he is less sure of the estimated 600 deaths, noting that he “seems a little distant.”

“But if it starts to go back to the nursing home, or if we infect so many young people, we see that they have spread to the ICU and the burial sites, it will be very problematic,” he adds.

As for those worst case scenarios? It’s still hard to say. There is a chance that this could happen, Rutherford says, but at the moment the result is not certain. “It’s too much of a modeling problem,” he says, “you get different numbers, but you have to plan something.”

Nonetheless, the future scenario that Rutherford really cares about isn’t just about the coronavirus – it’s also about the flu. “Will everyone be slow to get flu shots and will we start flooding emergency services for people with flu and COVID at the same time?”

It’s a scary thought, but he adds that the best way for San Francisco to prevent overcrowding is to follow the health department’s recommendations – to do what is within their power.

“They can stay home when they’re sick, they can avoid going home, they can get the flu,” he says. “That’s what they can control.”

And they should follow the advice given again by Colfax on Thursday: “Please put on a mask. It’s not that hard. “


Alyssa Pereira is the cultural editor of SFGate. Email: alyssa.pereira@sfgate.com | Twitter: @alyspereira




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